Ilegal Mezcal was founded by John Rexer, who began smuggling this product to his Bar, Cafe No Se, in Antigua, Guatemala. Ilegal Mezcal launched in 2005, and the brand has grown substantially in recent years. Though Eric Hernandez was originally involved in the distillation, Ilegal Mezcal was most recently produced by Alvaro and Armando Hernandez.
The company had a very successful marketing campaign around the phrase “Donald eres un Pendejo” in 2016 for the US election. Bacardi purchased an undisclosed amount of minority shares in the company in February of 2017. In September 2023, Bacardi took full ownership in Ilegal for an undisclosed sum.